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The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) is a benefits plan for workers. Workers pay into the plan and may get a retirement pension when they retire, or a disability pension if they can no longer work because of a disability. The amount of the pension depends on how many pension credits they have earned while working. Pension credits are based on contributions.

Most workers make regular contributions. Their employers deduct money from their wages and send it to the CPP. Employers then contribute a matching amount. Most self-employed workers make CPP contributions with their income tax returns. The government records all contributions when that information is received from employers or from workerís income tax returns.

Contributions to the Quebec Pension Plan count toward the CPP. Contributions to the pensions plans of some other countries also count.

Someone who is separated or divorced may be entitled to a share of his or her former partnerís pension credits.

Survivorís Benefits

Survivorís benefits are payments that you may be entitled to if your spouse, common law partner, parent, or guardian has died and if he or she contributed to the CPP for enough years.

The number of contributory years varies from 3 to 10, depending on the circumstances. Special rules apply if there were times when the person could not work because they were raising children or were disabled. If you think you might be entitled to survivorís benefits contact your local HRDC office or EOLC and we can assist you.

There are three types of survivorís benefits available if a worker or retired worker dies:
1. Survivorís pension
2. Orphanís benefits
3. Death benefits

Survivorís Pension:

You can apply for the survivorís pension if you were legally married for any length of time, or living in a common-law relationship for at least 1 year.

  • Usually, only 1 spouse or partner can get a survivorís pension. If your spouse or partner was legally married to someone else or in a common-law relationship with someone else, that other person might also apply. Which of you gets the pension will depend on the facts. If this is your situation, contact EOLC and we can advice you as to your options.
  • Same sex couples: If your same-sex partner died on or after January 1, 1998, then the rules about survivorís pensions apply to you. If the death occurred before that date, get legal advice as recent court decisions may give you a way to challenge the law as it existed prior to that date.

  • Amount of Pension

    The amount you will be entitled to depends on the size of your spouse or partnerís retirement pension, and on your situation.

  • If you were 65 years or older when your spouse or partner died, you can get up to 60% of their retirement pension. You will get less if you are also receiving your own retirement pension or disability benefits.
  • If you were under 65 years of age, you will get less than 60%. The amount depends on your age and the number of dependant children you have.
  • If you were under 35 years of age and had no dependant children when your spouse or partner died usually you will not receive a survivorís pension.
  • If you have a disability that prevents you from working, you may get a survivorís pension at any age. The amount depends on any other benefits you can get from the Canada Pension Plan.
  • Your pension will go up every year the cost of living goes up.

  • Applying for Survivorís Pension

  • There are no time limits for applying, but you should apply as soon as possible. If you wait more than 1 year, you might lose money.
  • If you qualify, CPP will give you a cheque for the months dating back to your spouse or partnerís death, but will not go back more than 12 months, including the month you apply in.
  • To apply for a pension , you need documents that prove:
  • Your spouse or partnerís death (usually a death certificate or funeral directorís statement)
  • Your age, and your spouse or partnerís age (birth certificates), and
  • Your marriage (marriage certificate), or your common law relationship (tax returns, insurance policies, and joint bank accounts)

  • Orphanís Benefits

    A Child may be entitled to orphanís benefits if their parent, guardian, or custodian has died. This can include someone who adopted the child (either legally or informally), or someone who had custody and control of the child. Children can get orphanís benefits under they turn 18 years of age, or until they turn 25 years of age if they are full-time students

    Amount of Benefits

    Orphanís benefits are paid once a month at a rate set each year by the government. If the child is under 18 years old, the cheques are sent to their surviving parent or guardian.

    If more than one parent or guardian dies while the child is eligible, and they each paid into CPP long enough, the child will receive benefits for each parent or guardianís contributions.

    Application Process

    There is no time limit for applying for orphanís benefits, but if a child waits more than one year to apply, he or she might lose money. CPP will give benefits for the months dating back to a parentís or guardianís death, but will not go back more than 12 months before the date of application.

    In order to apply for orphanís benefits, a child will need proof of:
  • Their parent of guardianís death,
  • Their parent or guardianís age at the time of death, and
  • Their own age

  • CPP Death Benefit

  • The CPP death benefit is a one-time payment that can be claimed by the estate of the person who died (or sometimes by a surviving spouse or partner, or next of kin, or the person who paid the funeral expenses).
  • The amount of the death benefit depends on how long the deceased person worked and how much they earned. It cannot be more than $2500. If they are claiming it as a person who paid funeral expenses, it cannot be more than the actual cost of the funeral.
  • If you are applying on behalf of the estate, you should do so within 60 days of the personís death. Otherwise, CPP might pay it to someone else who makes a claim.
  • You must give CPP proof that the person has died, such as a death certificate or a funeral directorís written statement.
  • If you are claiming for the estate, you may need to give CPP a copy of the will or other legal document to prove that you represent the estate.
  • If you are claiming for funeral expenses, you will have to provide proof of payment, such as receipts or invoices

  • CPP Retirement Benefits

  • CPP can pay up to 12 months of retirement benefits if the person who died:
  • Qualified for these benefits but never applied for them, and
  • Was at least 70 years old when they died.
  • To get these benefits, an application must be made within 1 year after the date of the personís death. This is called a ďpost-mortemĒ application.
  • These are not considered survivorís benefits, but they can increase the value of the estate or be paid directly to the survivors or dependants.

  • Appeal Process

    If you have been refused or you do not agree with the amount, get legal advice right away. EOLC will be able to help you with any appeal regarding CPP

    This video shows a Canada Pension Plan Review Tribunal hearing which is now known as the Social Security Tribunal. The video demonstrates what happens at a hearing.

    CPP Disability

    The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) disability benefit is available to people whose disability prevents them from working at any job on a regular basis. The CPP definition states that a disability has to be both "severe" and "prolonged", and must prevent you from being able to work at any job on a regular basis. People who qualify for disability benefits from other programs are not guaranteed to qualify for the CPP disability benefit.

    The CPP disability benefit is administered by Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC), a federal government department.

  • You must apply for a disability benefit in writing.
  • The CPP medical adjudicators decide, based on your application and supporting documentation, whether your disability is both "severe and prolonged". The law defines a severe disability as one that prevents you from doing your former job, or any other job, on a regular basis. A disability is prolonged, when it is expected to last at least one year or is likely to result in death.
  • This monthly benefit is not guaranteed for life. Your benefit will stop if your condition improves to the point where you are able to work at any job on a regular basis, or you turn 65, or upon your death.
  • After age 65, the CPP retirement pension amount is less than the CPP disability benefit, but you are also eligible for the Old Age Security and possibly also the Guaranteed Income Supplement.


    See if this benefit is for you. Answer yes or no to these three questions:

    1. Am I under 65 years of age? 2. Did I stop working because of my medical condition? 3. When I was working, did I pay into the CPP for at least four of the last six years? If you answered 'yes' to all questions, you may be able to get a CPP disability benefit. If you answered 'no' to questions 1, 2 or 3, it is less likely that you will qualify for a benefit, but there may be some exceptions in your case which can help you qualify. Contact your local HRDC office for assistance in the application process.

    Application Process

  • Contact your local HRDC office and they will send you an application kit. You must apply for a disability benefit in writing. If you prefer, someone else (a family member or friend) can complete the kit for you (but please make sure that you sign the application form for your benefit).
  • On average, it takes HRDC about three to four months to make a decision on your application depending on the completeness of the information received.
  • You will be contact by an HRDC representative to explain how and why the decision on your application was made. You will then receive a letter confirming that decision. The phone call and letter will tell you if your application has been approved and what your appeal rights are. If your application is approved, you will also be told the date that your benefit begins and the amounts you will receive.
  • Under CPP legislation, your payments start four months after the date HRDC determined you were found to be disabled under CPP rules.
  • Any dependent child under 18 years of age, or any child who is between 18 and 25 and is attending school full time, can receive a monthly benefit if a parent is approved for a disability benefit. Applications for children's benefits are included in the application kit. Your child can only receive a benefit if at least one parent is receiving a CPP disability benefit.

    Applicants who are terminally ill: special procedures

    Applicants who have a terminal illness will have their disability applications decided within 48 hours upon receipt of their application. Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) staff give these applications priority to determine eligibility quickly so that benefit payments can start as soon as possible. There may be other HRDC benefits (survivor, children's and death benefits) which may assist clients and their families in this situation.

  • Appeal Process

  • If it is decided that you are not eligible for a CPP disability benefit, you have the right to request a review of that decision.
  • There are three opportunities in the Canada Pension Plan to request a review of your disability application. These must occur in the following order:

    Step 1

    A request to Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) for reconsideration.

  • You must contact HRDC in writing to say that you want to have the decision reconsidered, and you must do this within 90 days of receiving the decision letter. Please include in your letter:
  • your name, current address and social insurance number;
  • an explanation of why you want to have your application reviewed;
  • any new medical or other new information that could affect the decision; and,
  • the date and your signature.

    You are responsible for providing all information required supporting your case. You can however, provide this information after asking for a reconsideration in writing if you are unable to gather all required information within the time limits.

    Reconsideration is a review of all of the information about your application in your file by the Department. HRDC staff who were not involved in making the original decision will review your file. They will examine your application, as well as any new information supplied by you, or by others on your behalf. HRDC staff may also seek more medical information on your case. They may ask you to see another doctor. If this happens, CPP will pay for the doctor's visit and your travel to the doctor if that is necessary. After they finish their review, they will call you to explain the result. They will also send the reasons for their decision to you by mail, so that you will have a copy for your records.

    Step 2

    An appeal to the Office of the Commissioner of Review Tribunals.

    If you are dissatisfied with the HRDC decision on your reconsideration, you can appeal to the next level, which is the Office of the Commissioner of Review Tribunals (OCRT). You must let the OCRT know in writing that you want to appeal.

    To appeal the decision that HRDC made on your reconsideration, you must send a letter to the OCRT within 90 days of receiving the HRDC reconsideration decision letter. Any other party affected by HRDC's decision may also make an appeal to the OCRT. When the OCRT accepts the appeal, the OCRT will request a copy of the information the department used in making its decision. This information is provided to all parties in the appeal.

    Staff from the OCRT will contact you about what you have to do to prepare for the hearing and where and when it will take place. They will also send you documents related to your case, and answer any questions you have. If the hearing location is far from your home, the OCRT will reimburse you for reasonable travel and accommodation costs.

    At least one month before your scheduled hearing, the OCRT will send you HRDC's document called the "Explanation of the Decision". Although the decision letter and reconsideration letter gave the reasons why your application was denied, the "Explanation of the Decision" document contains more detailed information related to your individual case. This document will help you prepare your case.

    At the hearing, you will present your case before a three-member Review Tribunal panel. One member is a lawyer who will chair the hearing; one is a health professional, and the other is an individual from the community, from any walk of life. The panel members are not HRDC employees.

    All Review Tribunal hearings are closed to the public. At your expense, you may bring someone to help you explain your case, such as a family member or an advocate such as a lawyer. An HRDC representative may also attend. This level of appeal is meant to be as informal in its proceedings as possible. It is your opportunity to present your case in person to the Review Tribunal panel.

    At any time before the hearing, you can provide new information to support your appeal to the OCRT. You should always mail your new information to the OCRT as soon as possible and far in advance of your hearing date. The OCRT sends HRDC any new information received from you. If HRDC agrees that your new information supports your eligibility for a disability benefit, HRDC can reverse its original decision. Depending when such information is received and investigated, a hearing may not have to take place.

    After your hearing, the OCRT will send a registered letter to you and HRDC explaining the Review Tribunal's decision and the reasons for it.

    Step 3

    An appeal to the Pension Appeals Board.

    If you are dissatisfied with the OCRT decision, you can then request leave (permission) to appeal to the Pension Appeals Board (PAB). You must make this request in writing, within 90 days of receiving the OCRT decision letter. The Minister of Human Resources Development, or any other party affected by the OCRT decision, may also request leave to appeal to the PAB.

    At this level of appeal, a PAB judge must review your request and give you permission to present your case before the PAB, before you can proceed. If HRDC believes that the OCRT decision is not in agreement with the CPP legislation, they can also ask for permission to appeal to the PAB.

    If the PAB judge decides not to hear the appeal, you and HRDC will be notified by mail. This means that the decision made by the Review Tribunal is final and your appeal ends. However, you may request a judicial review of the PAB's decision not to hear your case.

    If the PAB judge decides that there are grounds to hear your appeal, you and HRDC will be notified in writing. The PAB will then schedule a hearing date in your province at the next available opportunity.

    You can send the PAB any new information that you think might support your appeal. You should always send the PAB your new information as soon as possible and far in advance of your hearing date. The PAB will forward your information to HRDC. If HRDC agrees that this new information supports your eligibility for a disability benefit, it can reverse its original decision and offer to settle. If such information is received early enough, an appeal hearing may not have to take place.

    The PAB panel is usually made up of three judges. PAB hearings are open to the public, and all their decisions can be made available to the public.

    At a PAB hearing, a lawyer and a physician knowledgeable about the medical details of your case represent HRDC. The PAB does not expect people who appeal to have legal counsel. If you decide to have legal counsel or another person represent you at your expense, this is your decision. You may be eligible to claim some of the costs related to your hearing.

    After the hearing, the PAB will inform you and HRDC of its decision. PAB decisions are final for both you and the Minister of HRDC. This means that your appeal ends. However, you can ask for a judicial review of the PAB's decision. Information on paying for a review or appeal, when you will know the decision and what happens if you win an appeal is provided below.

    At every level, you must make your request in writing within specific time limits. You can request a review of any decision made on your application, including, for example:

  • the denial of a benefit,
  • the amount of a benefit payment,
  • the date the benefit payment begins, or
  • the cancellation of your benefit.

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